I’m in love with a Shampoo Bar…

WARNING: This is going to be a long review.  It can’t be helped.

The title of my post is pretty self-explanatory.  For those who read my review on Curl Junkie, you will remember me saying that I had two pieces missing which were needed to complete my picture of great hair.  The Curl Junkie review addressed the first problem, which was that I needed styling products that worked for me.  The other missing piece to the picture boiled down to one very basic item: shampoo.  For quite some time now, I’ve been using whatever suited my fancy to wash my hair.  It’s been a rotation between a SLS-free shampoo, a cheap bottle of Suave, and Dr. Bronner’s.  Did my hair like this regimen?  Not really.  It wasn’t too fussy about it (ie. it wasn’t stripped or damaged as a result) but I believe that one of the reasons it was able to tolerate this madness was because it didn’t have the extra stress of having to contend with heat.  I really wanted something gentle that would work, and so I set out looking for that special shampoo by reading reviews galore.

Enter Chagrin Valley Soaps.

I put in my order and received it in 2 days.  I had heard about how good the shipping was, and I was nothing less than impressed.  Ida has quite a selection on the website, and I was very tempted to order the full-size bars.  I ordered the samples (which are generously portioned) and am happy that I did because I was able to give everything a decent try and really find out what worked for me.  I ordered the following shampoo bars: The Ayurvedic Bar, Olive & Babassu, Babassu & Marshmallow, Neem & Tea Tree and the Nettle bar.  I also ordered a couple of soaps (the honey butter bar and the Chamomile & Calendula bar).  A little information about the products: They are ALL NATURAL.  I have to stress that Ida’s products are as far from commercial as one could possibly get.  Everything is unscented, or smells herbal because of (obviously) the use of herbs and essential oils.  I have no problem with this, in fact, I love it.  However, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care for a strong herbal scent while showering or you want to smell like cotton candy, this may not be for you.

The first shampoo I tried was the Ayurvedic Bar.  I was most excited about trying this one because of its ingredients.  It is full of things that I know my hair likes: Amla, Hibiscus, Castor bean oil and a few things I had never heard of like Bhringraj, which is supposed to act like a ‘multi-vitamin’ for hair (according to the website).  Using the shampoo bar was a different experience, I have to admit.  It didn’t produce a big lather for me, but I washed my hair with it 3 times and took my time rubbing and working my hair and scalp anyway.  After I rinsed my hair of the 3rd wash, it felt a bit waxy, but I was prepared and had my Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in water and proceeded to use it as a rinse to restore my hair’s acid mantle.  It worked well.  My hair and scalp did feel clean, but also different.  It wasn’t waxy or stripped or anything like that, so I have to assume that my hair probably needed to acclimate to the product.

The results of the Ayurvedic Bar were okay as far as my hair look and feel.  I really didn’t give the shampoo bar much thought until three or four days later.  I had left my hair out with its curls the day that I washed it, and had forgotten to oil my scalp that night and onward.  A few nights later, I had parted my hair expecting to see the flakes that were always present when I didn’t baby my scalp but found nothing.  I really didn’t want to get excited, so I kept on parting my hair and looking for flakes but my entire scalp was clean.  The Ayurvedic Bar is a definite keeper for me because of this.

The second bar I tried was the Olive & Babassu.  I wasn’t going to order this sample at first, but quite a few people recommended it when I was watching and reading reviews.  I liked it.  It has a creamy lather and is very mild.  Perfect to use on a child since it is unscented and moisturizing.

The Babassu & Marshmallow shampoo bar is my favorite, hands down.  I had read from some one that marshmallow root helps define the curl pattern and I have to say that it definitely did.  This shampoo bar is moisturizing and creamy.  My hair felt silky and my curls popped before even applying any product to them.  I found that this shampoo bar produced the same result when I used it on the kids’ hair. I’m going to be ordering a big bar of this.

Neem & Tea Tree is a shampoo/face/body bar.  One can use it where ever it is needed.  Neem and Tea Tree are great for skin conditions such as dandruff, acne and eczema.  I cut the sample in half and gave piece to my husband while I kept the other part to add to my black soap for my problem skin.  My husband really likes it.  He’s been using his bar as a shampoo and body bar.   It has helped clear my skin in a few problem areas, and so I do like it.

The Nettle bar was the last shampoo bar that I sampled.  By the time I got around to using this bar, I knew how to manipulate the shampoo bar properly to make it sud the way I expected it to.  This bar is supposed to be good for dry scalp and minimizing hair loss.  I found it was mildly clarifying, which I like.  I would invest in a big bar of this shampoo as I really enjoyed using it.


I’m making space to address, specifically, my experience with the infamous Honey Butter Bar.  The Honey Butter Bar has a cult following among we Naturalistas.  The HB Bar is actually a soap bar, but because of its content (think lots of good butters and oils) it is also used in the place of a conditioner by quite a few women.  It didn’t work for me.  Not at all.  I did my best to give it a few chances, but I didn’t like how it made my hair feel.  I guess if it works then it works darn good, cause it has some stellar reviews as a conditioner.  I advise buying this bar as a sample if interested.  I will say that I’ve been using the piece I have left as a regular soap to bathe with and it leaves my skin incredibly smooth.


Okay, so getting a review on how well something works is all fine and good, but I think it’s even more helpful to let you know what to expect if you want to make the change to a shampoo bar.  First off, it isn’t like using a liquid shampoo. There is a slight learning curve involved with learning how to lather up the bar and to get it to sud properly for your hair.  Like anything else, the more you use it, the better you get with your technique. Keep in mind though that it will never give you the kind of lather you get with a commercial, liquid shampoo.  The shampoo bar is made of things that a beneficial to the hair and scalp with no preservatives.  Although it is very effective, it is also gentle, and so you do have to manually massage and rub your hair and scalp really good to get it clean.  It’s kind of scary that regular shampoos don’t require a lot of agitation to get your hair to feel ‘squeaky’ clean  (take that as a sign of how harsh they can be).

When using a shampoo bar, it is a good idea to give your hair and scalp a chance to make the adjustment.  If your scalp’s balance is out of whack with how much oil it produces or such, then the shampoo bar (if you’re using the right one) will most likely address and solve the problem.  There are people who have used shampoo bars and found their scalp over producing oil (because they used to use a harsh shampoo).  Sticking with it, the scalp will soon realize its oils are not being stripped and it will stop over producing.  Also, using a shampoo bar in a hard water zone will produce a waxy feel on the hair.  A good solution to this is the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse which will get rid of the waxiness.  Also, the rinse is good because it brings the hair’s acid mantle back to what it should be.  I like how my hair feels after the ACV rinse, but hate the fact that even after rinsing the rinse, I can still smell the vinegar (not sexy).  I use my regular conditioner instead since it does the same thing as an ACV rinse in regards to restoring the proper PH to the hair (and I don’t have hard water).

Finally, with the Chagrin Valley soaps, it is important to store them out of the shower/bath when you finish using them.  They are made of butters and oils, and they will melt away in a warm, humid bathroom.  Ideally, you want to keep them on a soap deck (where the water can drain) instead of a soap dish.  I recommend her soaps also, as I’ve used a couple and really like how they make our skin feel. If you’re prone to itchy, dry skin, you would be doing yourself a huge favour.